How to Keep New Years Exercise Resolutions & Get Fit Without Breaking the Bank
The holidays are over and the new year isn’t feeling quite as shiny as it did at the beginning of the week. This is the point where all those New Years Resolutions you set previously start to become a bit of a slog. I’m not the greatest at New Years Resolutions myself, I quickly get lazy and fall out of habits. But I’m still using the changing of the calendar to try and improve myself and infuse some good health practices in my day to day life.
Some things I’m focusing on this year:
I’ve done well with my new meditation practice so far (read about how to start a meditation practice) but the exercise part has been trickier. The arctic temperatures in Chicago make it impossible to go outside for any extended period of time and the flu that’s going around has slowed me down too. But I know I’m not the only one who is struggling with new fitness goals, so I thought I’d put together this post of ways to keep your New Year’s fitness resolution while sticking to your budget. While it’s easy to plunk down hundreds of dollars for a gym membership you never use or fancy equipment that gathers dust, there are other ways to get fit and do it regularly.
Build Exercise into Your Daily Routine
One of the best ways to incorporate a new habit into your life is to find a way to incorporate it into your already existing daily routine. One of the easiest ways to do this is to swap a low energy activity for an exercise activity. Try swapping a time when you drive (or use public transport) with exercise time and walk, jog, or bike to work, the grocery store, or anywhere else. Obviously, this will depend on your situation but think about your day and where you could get some extra workout time.
I have a friend who lives in a different city and will run five miles to or from work a couple days a week to help maximize her exercise time, rather than sitting on the train for 20 minutes. One thing my boyfriend and I do is when we need to go to the grocery store to pick up something small, we turn it into a long walk, going through the park before we go to the grocery store. That extra mile adds more steps to our step counter and some good exercise time.
If this isn’t an option, try to build your fitness habit into already structured habits. If you normally shower in the morning before work, get up 30 minutes earlier and take a run before your shower. On the way home from work stop by the gym or a park where you can get your run in.
Track Your Fitness Habit
One of the best ways to build a new habit is to stay consistent. Writing down your fitness goals and tracking them will help you continue the habit and meet your goals. There are a couple of super low-budget (eg. FREE) ways to track your habit.
Get a piece of paper or a journal to write down your fitness goals and track your progress. You could also use a free printable habit tracker to track your progress.
If digital is more your speed, there are plenty of smartphone apps that achieve a similar goal. I’m currently using the premium version of the iOS app Momentum, which is based on the “Don’t Break the Chain” method for creative success. I track tons of habits like writing, blogging, meditation, and fitness. There are tons of apps out there that use a similar type of tracking.
If you need a little more motivation to meet your fitness goals, I highly recommend getting a fitness tracker. I jumped into this world about two years ago and haven’t looked back. When I switched from a regular day job to working at home as a freelancer I was suddenly spending a lot of time sitting around. Since I live in a city, my commute previously involved a lot of walking and public transport. Cutting the commute out of my daily life suddenly cut out most of my physical activity.
Fitness trackers are great because they passively track your steps and calories burned, while others also have move reminders, sleep tracking, exercise tracking, and coaching functions built in. You may think most fitness trackers are way out of your budget, but you can often find cheap fitness trackers around $30 and basic pedometers for even less.
If you own a smartphone, there might already be fitness tracking built in. Some of the most recent iPhones include the Health app which can track your steps. That tracking is perfect if you want to increase your daily step count to the recommended 10,000 steps per day.
Streaming Workout Videos
While it’s tempting to plunk down major money for a gym membership so you can take advantage of a variety of fitness classes, you might be able to get the same experience at home for free with streaming video. If you’re already a cord-cutter who subscribes to Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, or Netflix, search their library for fitness videos like yoga, pilates, or aerobics. I no longer pay for yoga classes because I have access to so many great quality streaming yoga videos for free. (Check out my top yoga videos on Amazon Prime.)
If you don’t have a subscription to any streaming services, Youtube is a fantastic alternative. There are tons of free workout videos available that you can follow along with at home. If you’re into yoga, I recommend checking out Yoga with Adriene, Bad Yogi with Erin Motz, and Fightmaster Yoga.
Secondhand Workout Equipment
One of the reasons the fitness industry is so successful is because people are always looking for the next trend or quick fix to get the body of their dreams. As a result, many people invest a lot of money into home exercise equipment and then give up when they don’t get miraculous results or the habit never sticks. This is a great opportunity for us thrifty-minded people to grab a deal on these unwanted items.
If you’re looking to build your own home gym with free weights or equipment like treadmills and stationary bikes, check out your local Craiglist or Freecycle. It’s incredibly easy to find cheap gently used equipment and sometimes people are willing to give it away for free if you’ll just come pick it up from your house.
If you’re in the market for smaller items like workout DVDs, yoga mats, exercise balls, or hand weights, check your local thrift stores and second-hand shops. Yard sales and estate sales are also a great place to hunt. It may take time to find the exact thing you’re looking for, but you’re sure to find a deal.
These are just a few tips to try to help you meet your fitness goals for cheap or free. Share any tips you have in the comments below.